NOT EVERYTHING IN CHRISTIANITY IS OF EQUAL IMPORTANCE
When Jesus was asked to explain the greatest commandment, He replied by saying: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt 22:36-40).
When the Apostle Paul was speaking about doctrine, he explained that some doctrines are of first importance, implying that others are of less importance: “Brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).
When the Apostle John was writing his biography of Jesus, not everything could be included. He was forced to leave our some of the less important information. In his closing statement he says: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
ONE WAY TO THINK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY IS TO DRAW A NUMBER OF CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
The inner circle contains those doctrines which a person must absolutely believe in order to be a Christian. These would include:
> The deity of Jesus
> Jesus dying on the cross to pay for our sin
> The resurrection
> That we are sinners who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus
The second circle contains those doctrines which a person may not have to believe to actually be a Christian, but they are so significant that if we mess with them there would be serious implications. One example of this might be the authority of the Bible. A person could come to place their faith in Jesus to save them without actually believing that the whole Bible is true. So in that sense, it’s not an ‘inner circle doctrine’. But the implications for not believing the Bible are huge, both individually and corporately as a church community.
The third circle contains those doctrines which typically divide denominations. These might include:
> Speaking in Tongues
> Church Leadership Structures
The outer circle contains those doctrines which Christians might discuss, and perhaps even hold an opinion on, but even within different Christian denominations there are varying beliefs.
WHY THIS IS HELPFUL
Firstly, a person doesn’t need to believe absolutely everything Christianity teaches in order to become a Christian.
Secondly, the objections or questions a person has about Christianity may not be as big a problem as we might expect. Some people figure out all their questions before they become a Christian. But most people become Christians even though they have not had all their questions answered.
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